Fight breaks out on Oregon City route
A TriMet bus driver underwent surgery Wednesday morning after he and several passengers were stabbed during a fight on the bus late Tuesday in Oregon City.
The names of the victims have not been released because of privacy restrictions. According to the Oregon City Police Department, they are all in stable condition.
The suspect has been arrested and identified as Austin William Vanhagen, 19, a resident of Country Village mobile home park, which is in unincorporated Oregon City. He is in custody at the Clackamas County Jail and initially charged with three counts of Assault II, three counts of Unlawful use of a weapon, one count of Intimidation and one count of Assault IV.
According to the police, Vanhagen attacked his first victim outside the Line 33 bus around 10:50 p.m. on Molalla Avenue near Clairmont Way in Oregon City. Vanhagen then forced his way onto the bus and fought with the other victims. Some of them detained Vanhagen until the police arrived and arrested him. During the struggle, three more victims received stab wounds and one received a bite wound.
All of the stabbing victims were conscious and breathing as they were being transported to Portland area hospitals for treatment.
The preliminary investigation reveals that Vanhagen was yelling racial slurs on the bus, but it is unknown who they were directed at. The bus driver is African-American and there were also some bi-racial passengers on the bus.
Police say the bus driver was stabbed once in the stomach, another victim was stabbed once in the in the leg, another victim was stabbed 5 times in the back, and one victim was bitten in the shoulder.
Late Wednesday morning, TriMet released the following statement about the attacks:
TriMet is greatly concerned whenever an employee or any passenger is assaulted on our system. We know that the entire TriMet family shares their concern for the operators welfare and for a speedy recovery. We also share our concern for the welfare of the passengers that were also wounded in the assault. This is a tragic incident.
Our operator had surgery early this morning, and our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family. Due to HIPAA, we do not have any further information on his condition.
We are working closely with the Oregon City Police Department as they lead the investigation into the assault on Line 33 last night. The Transit Police Division has the video from the bus and they are providing it to the Oregon City Police Department to assist in the investigation.
We are not releasing the operators name at this time in respect for the family.
The video is part of an active criminal investigation and not releasable at this time.
No other information is available for release at this time. Our statement will serve as our comments on this issue, and we will not be providing any interviews at this time.